Category News

COP24 Climate change deal to bring pact to life

Chairman Michal Kurtyka was in high spirits as the conference reached agreement

Negotiators in Poland have finally secured agreement on a range of measures that will make the Paris climate pact operational in 2020. Last-minute rows over carbon markets threatened to derail the two-week summit – and delayed it by a day. Delegates believe the new rules will ensure that countries keep their promises to cut carbon.

The Katowice agreement aims to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C. 

“Putting together the Paris agreement work programme is a big responsibility,” said the chairman of the talks, known as COP24, Michal Kurtyka.

“It has been a long road. We did our best to leave no-one behind.”

What did the delegates focus...

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Climate change: Failure to tackle warming ‘suicidal’

António Guterres of the United Nations

The UN secretary-general has warned negotiators at a major meeting that failing to increase efforts on climate change would be “not only immoral but suicidal” for the planet. Antonio Guterres has flown back to Poland to try and push COP24 to a successful conclusion. 

At the UN talks, a group of countries have said they will enhance their climate plans before 2020. The EU and others say they are responding to the urgency of science.

Some observers believe that the return of Mr Guterres to these talks is a sign that significant progress is not being made. 

In his remarks to the conference, he underlined that fact, imploring the delegates to speed up the pace of negotiations and to be open to compromise.

He said that key political issues here in Poland remain unresolved. 

“To ...

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Scientists Find Some Hope for Coral Reefs

Healthy Coral Reef

Among the threatened corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world that has been ravaged by global warming, researchers have found a reason for optimism — or at least a reason not to despair completely.

Coral reefs, which by some estimates support a quarter of all ocean life, are harmed by warming oceans. The effects can be seen in the loss of their vibrant colors, a phenomenon known as bleaching. But after ocean temperatures surged in 2016 around the Great Barrier Reef, causing severe damage, researchers found that the corals that survived were more resistant to another period of extreme warmth the following year.

“It’s one enormous natural selection event,” said Terry Hughes, an expert on coral reefs at James Cook University in Australia and...

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We can assess the health of coral reefs by the sounds algae make

beautiful colours of the coral reef

When oceanographers Lauren and Simon Freeman, a couple who work with the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island, first mentioned what they’d heard to others, the response was not exactly positive. They’d been listening to sounds they were certain had been made by marine macroalgae covering underwater coral reefs in Hawaii. Simon recalls, “We were told the sound was from snapping shrimp, end of story.” But, listening at a few locations, they saw a correlation between the amount of sound and the quantity of algae. Further research has pretty much confirmed their hunch, and they’ve introduced a new avenue for marine acoustic ecology: Assessing the health of reefs according to the sounds they make.

Algae, like plants on dry land, convert sunlight and carbon dioxide to energy vi...

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Strong chance of a new El Niño forming by early 2019

An image showing the 2015 El Niño with rising temperatures in the Pacific

The World Meteorological Organization says there’s a 75-80% chance of a weak El Niño forming within three months. The naturally occurring event causes changes in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean and has a major influence on weather patterns around the world. It is linked to floods in South America and droughts in Africa and Asia.

El Niño events often lead to record temperatures as heat rises from the Pacific.

According to the WMO update, sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific have been at weak El Niño levels since October. However the atmosphere has not yet responded to the extra warmth that’s produced by the upwelling seas.

Scientists have been predicting the likelihood of a new event since May this year, with confidence increasing.

The Australian Bureau of...

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Coral Reefs Around The World Are In Grave Danger

Coral reefs are under threat

What’s Happening

One of the most wonderous living things on earth is coral. Humans view its diversity and hues as a gorgeous, underwater decoration. But, it is a living organism that supports the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of species in the underwater ecosystem. Man may appreciate its wonder, but our destructive tendencies are harming this vital member of the oceans and seas. Here’s what you need to know about the grave threats facing coral reefs. If we don’t act soon, we may destroy these beautiful pieces of the earth.

What Exactly Is Coral?

Corals are relatives of the sea anemone. They are all made of the same simple structure: the polyp. The polyp resembles a tin can open at one end: the open end has a mouth surrounded by tentacles...

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Surge in marine refuges brings world close to protected areas goal

A record surge in the creation of marine protected areas has taken the international community close to its goal of creating nature refuges on 17% of the world’s land and 10% of seas by 2020, according to a new UN report. Protected regions now cover more than five times the territory of the US, but the authors said this good news was often undermined by poor enforcement. Some reserves are little more than “paper parks” with little value to nature conservation. At least one has been turned into an industrial zone.

More than 27m square kilometres of seas (7% of the total) and 20m sq km of land (15% of the total) now have protected status, according to the Protected Planet report, which was released on Sunday at the UN biodiversity conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Almost all of th...

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Two killer whales spotted off north Co Dublin coast

Killer Whales off the coast of Dublin

Two killer whales were spotted by fishermen trawler off the coast of Dublin on Saturday, the second sighting in as many weeks in the area. The fishermen captured a video of two killer whales 8kms east of Rockabill, which is off the Dublin coast near Skerries, north Co Dublin.

Two weeks ago, another fishermen on another vessel, spotted a killer whale in the same area, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

Padraig Whooley, sighting officer with the IWDG, said the group had validated both recent sightings.

The IWDG was made aware of the video, posted on Facebook by one of the fishermen on the trawler, on Sunday afternoon. “The video footage is great,” Mr Whooley said.

The said the group might validate a dozen confirmed sightings of killer whales in “a good year,” Mr Whoo...

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Why global media must change negative agenda towards sharks

Grey Reef Shark

“It’s all psychological. You yell ‘barracuda!’, people are like ‘Huh?? What?? You yell, ‘shark’ and we got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”

Those familiar with the film that introduced the world to the concept of a ‘summer blockbuster’ will know that these words are spoken by Larry Vaughn, Mayor of Amity Island, the fictional summer town setting for ‘Jaws’. More than 40 years after it terrified cinemagoers, Jaws remains a legendary piece of film storytelling. Based on Peter Benchley’s actually far more explicit book, its tale centres on a Police Chief’s two-handed battle: on land, against a town mayor with misguided principles, and off shore against a ‘killer shark.’

So why was ‘Jaws’ so successful in creating stampedes of filmgoers to their loca...

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Colombia’s island fishermen dive into battle to protect coral reefs

A native fisherman of Colombia

For nearly three decades, Javier Barker has fished in the Caribbean Sea surrounding the Colombian island of San Andres – but until recently he knew little about the importance of coral reefs that fish depend on to survive. “I used to think corals were just hard stones. I didn’t know that corals are living creatures,” said 40-year-old Barker, who began line fishing as a teenager with his family.

“I now know corals are cradles for fish, and healthier corals equals more fish so corals are important for everyone,” he said.

Worldwide, coral reefs from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean have come under growing stress as a result of rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change and other human-induced pressures including overfishing, pollution and tourism...

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